In Review: Share Your Smile

This is THE book to get future writers and/or comic book artists.

Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story by Raina Telgemeier

Published by Scholastic on April 30, 2019. Hardcover of 144 pages at $12.99. Intended for ages 8 – 12, grades 3 – 7. 

NOTE: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication.

The cover: A light blue cover features the author’s name at the top with four characters from her books beneath: Catrina from Ghosts, next to her sister Maya, also from Ghosts, then Raina herself from Smile and Sisters, closing with Callie from Drama. Each character is holding artwork that they’ve created for their own comics. The title and subtitle are under the characters. This is a neat introduction to what’s inside. If readers are familiar with Telgemeier’s books, these characters will be instantly recognizable. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the back cover, “Get ready to journal and make comics with Raina Telgemeier! Have you ever thought about telling your own story, whether it be true or imagined? Are you interested in writing, drawing, or both? If the answers are yes, this fun, colorful, and interactive journal is for you! With guidance from Raina herself, brainstorm ideas, make lists, paste in personal photos, and use your imagination like never before to create your own stories. For additional inspiration, special behind-the-scenes info from Raina’s own comics-making adventures is featured inside!” I love books that teach others how to make comics and using examples from her own published works makes Raina the perfect source for how to do so. Overall grade: A

Using examples from own books, Raina Telgemeier tells and shows young readers how they can do what she’s done. She begins with a scene from Smile, followed by how she decided to create it. She shows what tools she used to illustrate the book and how she broke down the pages. This is followed by a series of questions to help spark ideas in readers from their own lives, showing how they have material that they could turn into a story and/or a comic book. A trio of photos follow demonstrating how Raina looked at the time Smile is set. This is neat peek behind the scenes of the young author! Pages are then provided for readers to put in pictures that might also help them create a story. Raina shows how to draw characters, settings, and provides pages for readers to practice. Setting comes next in the same format. After this are examples from Sisters, demonstrating that family members and trips can also provide inspiration for stories and comics. Drama has examples, too, with the emphasis on what happens in school. Ghost is a wholly original tale and Telegemeier shows how to create a more fanciful tale. The book closes with pages from her upcoming book Guts, including the process she used to create it. These final pages show readers that the processes she’s shared are what she uses.

The final line: This is THE book to get future writers and/or comic book artists. Telgemeier’s examples are terrific, especially with photos that show how her life inspired many of her tales. Using examples that any young reader can relate to — events, family, school, or a fanciful imagination — allow any reader to realize that they can create as well. To have a reader want to create their own story is the best gift any author can give. If you know a young reader who wants write or draw, this is the book to get them. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

To order a copy go to:

To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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